The Origin of International Tournament Rules

In January of 1998, the China State Sports Commission officially recognized mahjong as the 255th sport. The following September, a set of International Tournament Rules were created which would become the new standard of mahjong.

Until recently, the rules of mahjong varied from region to region of vast China, be it Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, or Guangzhou. Once the game was recognized as a sport, it became necessary to create a unified set of rules so that domestic tournaments could be held. Unified rules were also needed to make international competition possible.

Nine mahjong experts from across the country gathered to debate the new rules. After two years of intense efforts, 440 hands from various regions were reduced first to 200, and finally to 81, which is the official count today.

Their great undertaking was quickly fruitful: the World Championship in Mahjong was held in 2002, and the International Tournament Rules would spread around the world with impressive speed. In 2005, the first Open European Mahjong Championship was held in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The 2nd Open European Mahjong Championship will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2008. And in 2009, the Second World Championship in Mahjong will be held in Beijing.

Undoubtedly, these rules will be adopted in countless international tournaments for decades to come. Players around the world are feverishly devising strategies and techniques to use in competitions of the new international rules. Become a part of the excitement and find out what it takes to excel at the new standard of mahjong.

*Adopted from Hideyuki Tamura,"Competition Mahjong: Official International Rulebook," Mahjong Museum.